It seems like most music is designed to get people to move in some way. Techno, house, and disco all want you to dance until you drop. Salsa is both a musical genre and a style of dance. But what of metal? It's music to bang your head to, and perhaps to push/shove/fight to. However, that is not always the case. At a recent metal show I attended, the music ellicited mostly staring. How exactly do you move when listening to Bloody Panda, Krallice, and Portal?
The first band on the bill proved the exception. Nekrofilth, a punk-ish death metal band native to Cleveland, played some straight-forward head-bangin' tunes. It was not the stuff of legends, but it put me in a good mood, with some fun riffs, misanthropic lyrics, and a quick tempo. The band didn't even introduce themselves, much less banter on the small, bar-side stage of Now That's Class. Indeed, after they finished the rapid set, someone called out "Who are you?" It would have been to their benefit to say so, as I wouldn't mind seeing them again, certainly others agree with me.
Bloody Panda, who had soundchecked earlier, got down to business on the stage in the other room of the establishment. The sound was not great and the vocals were too low, but the set mostly held my attention. Unfortunately, BP's music just doesn't appeal to me much, and during the set I was able to pin down what I don't really like about the band: the drummer. For their droney, hypnotic songs, the drumming is always too fast or wholely unnecessary. It's too complex for this slow, sludgy music. Despite my complaints about the nature of their music, the band does perform well and I wouldn't complain one bit about their enthusiam for their music.
Third of the night was the band I explicitly came to see, Krallice (see my vow to see a Mick Barr band live in an earlier post), whom I thought were the headliners. I really loved 2009's Dimensional Bleedthrough and anxiously looked forward to their set. The band put forth all their might, each member moving his hands dextrously across his instrument, but the overall sound didn't translate well. I don't know if it was the sound in the club or the nature of this particular style of music, but it didn't sound great. I had a hard time identifying the songs (I think they did "Autocthon" and "Aridity," but I'm probably way off base). The comlexity of the music, aided by clean production in its recorded form, comes off as a mess of noise in a live setting. Now, I would have prefered to hear something more like the record, but I still enjoyed the energy of the band and the spectacle of watching them pull off such complex and long compositions.
The above two bands played to a crowd of nearly motionless individuals, but things picked up a little when Australian headliners Portal took the stage. Just beforehand, a few over-eager (and probably drunk) fans were yelling in their best cookie-monster growl: "PORTAAAL!" This surprised me, as I never thought Portal was that big of a deal (in terms of popularity, not quality of music), but they certainly have a few fans on this side of the world. On a unique bill of bands, Portal win for most unique. The members donned costumes in the 80+ degree heat, the vocalist wearing a black version of a cardinal/pope-type outfit. His gestures were theatrical and exaggerated, a good match for ripping, noisy death metal. He threw up the metal claw quite often and so did the audience (I guess that's some movement). The other bands didn't sound so great in this club, but Portal's music was perfectly suited to this environment. Noisy band, less-than-stellar sound, it all worked out. I have no clue what songs they did, since I just picked up Swarth at the show.
There was some disappointment during this show, but Portal really made the evening with their theatrics and skull-pounding heaviness. I do hope that Krallice (or maybe Orthrelm??) comes back to town in a better venue sometime, somewhere with better sound.